Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia is made up of many different and distinct groups, each with its own culture, customs, language and laws.
Australia's First Peoples have been living on the Australian continent for millennia. They are the world’s oldest surviving culture; cultures that continue to be expressed in dynamic and contemporary ways.
This map attempts to represent the language, social or nation groups of Aboriginal Australia. It shows only the general locations of larger groupings of people which may include clans, dialects or individual languages in a group. It has been developed using resources that were published from 1988 – 1994 and is not intended to be exact, nor the boundaries fixed. It is not suitable for native title or other land claims.
To view an interactive version of the map or to purchase a print version visit The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website.
Discover and learn about our Indigenous history and culture with a variety of resources for you to listen to, watch, read and see.
Interested in visiting local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art galleries or museum exhibitions? Here is a list for you to check out.
- National Museum of Australia - Indigenous Collection
- National Library of Australia - Indigenous Collection
- National Gallery of Australia - Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art
- Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery
- Burrunju Aboriginal Corporation - Art Gallery
- Canberra Museum & Gallery - Possum-Skin Cloak
The following selection of movies, short stories and documentaries have been created or inspired by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some are free to view through SBS on Demand. Others can be accessed via the Reconciliation Australia website.
- Our Generation - Land/Culture/Freedom (Sinem Saban & Damien Curtis)
- Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thorton)
- Rabbit Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce)
- Bringing Them Home (Human Rights & Equal Opportunities Commissions)
- First Australians (Rachel Perkins & Darren Dale)
- Yolgnu Boy (Stephen Johnson)
- Stolen Generations (Darlene Johnson)
The following is a list of books written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors as a sample of the selection of stories available for all ages.
- Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
- Hey Mum, What’s a Half-Caste? by Lorraine McGee-Sippel
- Tiddas by Anita Heiss
- My Place by Sally Morgan
- Mununja the Butterfly by Don Bell
- Blood on the Wattle by Bruce Elder
- The Secret Country by John Pilger
- Fair Skin Black Fella by Renee Fogorty
- The Original Australians – Story of Aboriginal People by Josephine Flood
- Little Book of Red Black and Yellow by Bruce Pascoe (AISTSIS)
- The Cherry Pickers by Kevin Gilbert – a play
- Black is the new White by Nakkiah Lui – a play
- The Cherry Picker’s Daughter by Kerry Reed Gilbert – a memoir
- If Everyone Cared by Margaret Tucker – an autobiography
- Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia – edited by Anita Heiss with contributions from across Australia
- Holding Up the Sky (Aboriginal Women Speak)
- Bringing Them Home from the Human Rights & Equal Opportunities Commissions
Truth Telling is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to record evidence about past actions and share their culture, heritage and history with the broader community. See below for some examples of truth telling in practice.
The Making Peas/ce movement started with the recognition of the Desert Pea blood flower as a memorial symbol for the First Peoples who died through the effects of the colonisation of Australia.
Watch this short video of The Legend of Sturt’s Desert Pea by Arrernte woman Bev O'Callaghan. Bev has partnered with Floral activist Hazel Davies to help the little pea flower sing its song of truth and hope.
Learn about the National Apology to the Stolen Generations delivered by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 13 February 2008. Members of the Stolen Generations were invited to hear the National Apology first-hand in the gallery of the House of Representatives chamber at Parliament House. Watch the video or read the transcript here.
Source: AIATSIS Explore
Aimed at children in grades 3 to 4, this video is great for parents to watch at home to teach young children why Country is important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Learn about the First Peoples of Australia and the strong connection they have to the land through the showing of Indigenous artefacts at the National Museum of Australia. The two presenters also discuss how language, country and spirituality are linked.
On this 2019 episode of The Point, the team joins a panel of guests to explore truth-telling in Australia with a focus on the key moments in our history since colonisation. Journalist Jack Latimore examines the impact that the Frontier Wars have had in preventing a treaty from being signed. Reporter Ella Archibald-Binge explores the little-known chapter of Australia's South Sea Islander history, 25 years after they were formally recognised by the Federal Government. Hosted by Rachael Hocking and John Paul Janke. Available on SBS on Demand.
Source: The Point, NITV - SBS
In episode 1 of Australian Journey: The Story of a Nation in 12 Objects, viewers learn about the different perceptions of the Australian landscape between Indigenous and European people, with a focus on Burke and Wills.
Understand a variety of topics including how they viewed the land; how Europeans renamed land that already had names; how Europeans claimed the Australian land which already had inhabitants; the different maps by the two peoples (both are artefacts at NMA); the different understanding of the landscape; and how people survived on and off the land.
Watch episode 7 of Australian Journey: The Story of a Nation in 12 Objects, a free web-based educational video series. This video explains what the stolen generation and forced removal of children is; the experience of a stolen generation child as a child and when they grew up; the history of what happened until Sorry Day; the laws that were used; banning of the language and other Aboriginal practices; and the places and institutions where stolen generation children were taken.
A Q&A video from the popular ABC series available on ABC iview. This interview series invites people to ask questions that you can’t often ask people for fear of judgement. The answers to these questions are from people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Source: ABC iview
This short video talks about how the trauma of the Stolen Generation is affecting the modern Indigenous Australian community through the cycle of trauma.
This TEDxCanberra talk published in 2018 features Dean Parkin, one of the participants in writing the Uluru Statement. Dean introduces the context of the Statement and reads it out, while pausing to explain the different parts. The talk finishes with Dean suggesting things the Australian community can do to support the Statement. Dean also talks about Makarrata and why it’s important to the Aboriginal community.
This video was made by The University of Sydney interviewing its Indigenous staff and students to confront myths and stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Source: The University of Sydney
Reconciliation Australia and The Healing Foundation brought together experts from around the country for a Truth Telling Symposium in October 2018 to discuss the ways that truth telling could support healing and reconciliation in Australia. This report covers findings from the symposium.
Source: Reconciliation Australia
This news article from 2018 takes a look at the role of truth-telling and historical acceptance in moving the nation forward. It addresses the growing desire to gain an honest and full understanding of colonisation, and the dispossession and trauma that First Nations Peoples were subjected to.
Source: Reconciliation Australia
An article written by Victoria Grieve-Williams is a Warraimaay historian and Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Research, RMIT University explaining Makarrata and how in Aboriginal culture that healing after a conflict can only begin with a process of truth-telling.
Source: SBS – Voices, Culture